How to Use Instagram for Your Sports Team Marketing
If you have been following our blog, you may have noticed that recently we have been talking a lot about creating and using visuals for your sports team marketing. We looked into how to create sports team photos and videos as well how to market your team on the visual platform Pinterest.
Continuing with the visual sports marketing theme, in this article we will talk about another fantastic network for this type of marketing: Instagram.
You will learn why the platform is an effective marketing tool, how to set up your own account and start posting, along with strategies to grow your Instagram followers. In addition to that, we will look at useful tools and plugins to make your Instagram marketing even more effective, and a number of teams that are killing it on the platform.
Sound good? Then set up your favorite filters and let’s get going!
Why Use Instagram For Sports Team Marketing?
Let’s face it. There are more than enough social networks out there and I’m sure you are already on more than one of them. So, why add another one with Instagram? Well, it turns out there are good reasons.
A Large, Active Audience
While you might think of Instagram as a fringe network, that’s far from being accurate. The platform has more than 400 million active users per month (more than Twitter) and sees 80+ million photo uploads every day with 3.5 billion daily likes.
Yeah, I was surprised, too!
Over time Instagram has grown from a trendy teen hangout to a marketing heavyweight and is by now the second most used platform after Facebook by total time spent on there. In addition to that, its users are an active bunch. A post on Instagram averages 60 times more engagement than a Facebook post and 120 times more than a tweet.
Not too shabby, right? That means plenty of opportunities to market your team and attract fans and followers.
Focus on Visual Content
Studies show that humans respond to visuals much more than to text (after all, an image says more than a thousand words) and visual content continues to dominate the social space. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many marketers are moving towards more visual marketing and increasingly use platforms like Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram.
The good thing: Instagram not only capitalizes on this trend but also makes sharing and interacting with visuals really easy. Another reason to add the platform to your marketing mix.
Strong Focus on Mobile
It’s no secret that mobile traffic is increasingly becoming more important, we can’t avoid or deny that. In fact, studies show that US mobile users spend 90% of their time on their device using apps.
Your fans will be no different.
Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Instagram was designed as a mobile app. It has also consecutively been among the top 10 most popular smartphone apps for the past couple of years.
Therefore, if you want to capitalize on this trend, Instagram is a good place to start.
In fact, there’s a really good chance that some of your fans are already on there. As you will see below, the platform is filled with people who love sports and follow the accounts of their favorite teams and disciplines.
There are a lot of good reasons to get your sports team on Instagram and we will show you how to exactly do that next.
How to Create the Perfect Instagram Account
Whether you are trying to learn a new sport or a build a new marketing channel, knowing where to begin is usually the hardest of getting started.
Don’t worry. We’ll walk you through how to set up your account and tips on how to grow your Instagram followers. You’ll get the hang of it in no time!
To get started with Instagram, you can either sign up directly on their website or download the iOS or Android app. Whichever you choose, you will be asked to register with an email address, your name, user name and password.
It’s important that you create a dedicated account for your team and not use a personal account from one of your players. This could create confusion and it’s better to create an account solely for the organization in the long-run.
Of course we encourage your teammates to create their own account and connect with the club’s account. The more engagement there is, the better it is for your club!
Also, pick a username that is the same or similar to the ones you use in other social profiles to keep consistent.
Fill Out Your Profile
Next up, completely fill out your profile, which consists of three main things:
- Profile picture
- Link to your website
Providing a link to your site is especially important, since social media accounts only function as a point of entry for your main presence.
For the profile image, your team logo is the obvious choice. However, take great care to use a good quality image and that it comes out right, as your profile image will appear next to every interaction on Instagram.
Besides that, stay consistent in your team identity both in your image as well as your bio. People should be able to easily recognize you and your team across different platforms easily.
As for the bio, try to make it both informative and interesting. Describe who you are, what you do and inject some personality or something fun.
After you are done, you should end up with something similar to this:
Well done! Now let’s get busy posting.
How and What to Post in Your Instagram Account
When it comes to posting images, it’s important to note that Instagram has its own rules on what content goes well and how to present it, so you best pay attention.
Keep it Professional
Since Instagram puts a premium on visual content, users have very high standards. Shaky, low-resolution images from your old flip phone are not going to cut it, no matter how many filter you use.
In other words, use a good camera. Refer back to the article on how to take professional team photos and work your butt off to create some stunning visuals.
Seriously, quality beats quantity so be sure to choose wisely what you post. The content you post will stay on your profile feed, and Instagram users will quickly judge whether to follow you or not by looking at your account.
Pick the Right Size and Format
While Instagram users are no longer bound to a square format, square photos still reign supreme on the platform. Therefore, avoid images of rectangular shape if you can.
Even though Instagram will display your images only 612 x 612 pixels large, always upload an image at least twice this size (1024 x 1024 pixels) to ensure the quality remains consistent.
Edit to Your Heart’s Content
One of the reasons for Instagram’s success is that it offers a wide range of filters, which allow you to enhance the mood and colors of your images.
Yet, this is more than a silly gimmick. Research shows that filtered photos are more likely to be viewed and commented on than unfiltered ones.
It also goes on to show that people respond most favorably to high exposure filters, warm temperatures and images with high contrast so choose your filters accordingly.
Curalate also has a great infographic with additional information on this point:
Use the Right Motifs
We already talked about how to take photos of your team to use as social media material, and Instagram is the perfect place to share them.
For example, you can post:
- Best scenes from games
- Action photos
- Event photos
- Players that have joined your team
- Announcements for upcoming games
- Player birthdays
- and much more
Overall, posts that convey more of your team’s character and individuality are great to share. You can even combine several images to tell a story!
Videos are also possible as long as they are only up to 15 seconds long — perfect for that point you scored! Yet, on average videos don’t get that much interaction.
And once more: Make sure everything looks great! It’s really paramount for this network. I can’t stress this enough.
Along with taking great photos, another way to stand out on Instagram is to use relevant hashtags. They are the most valuable ingredient for getting your images in front of a large and targeted audience. Using hashtags lets others find your photos via the search function, which is why many people use dozens of hashtags in the captions of their posts.
To find relevant hashtags, do a quick brain storm of what terms you would look for to find image related to your team and then see how popular they are as hashtags.
After that, you can also go through the images you find and see what other tags they are using. That should give you a long enough list. Plus, Instagram has number of common hashtags that the community uses regularly and you can and should use those, too.
The limit of hashtags per image is 30 and many users take advantage of it. However, that doesn’t mean you have to do the same. I personally think it’s a better idea to find a balance between maximum findability and looking like a crazy person but you can make your own decision.
Alright, understand the basics? Good, then lets move on to how you can gain more followers. But first, here’s another great infographic that sums up the perfect Instagram post by MadeFreshly:
How to Get More Instagram Followers
Working in a vacuum is no fun. Without comments, likes or any sort of response, the Instagram experience will soon get boring.
To avoid that, here are some tips to grow your follower base.
I know I already mentioned it above, but it bears repeating: Hashtags are the single most important tool to attract followers to your Instagram stream, so don’t neglect them!
As with a lot of things in life (blogging, training, fitness) consistency is key. The most successful Instagram accounts post at least one update per day, many of them more often.
An active account shows your followers that they can expect regular updates from you. Plus, your fans want to see that the account is actively keeping them up to date, so don’t neglect it.
Instagram is a community. That means people are interacting with one another and if you want to be tap into this network, you need to participate and get involved to get the most out of your efforts.
Responding to interactions, liking and commenting on other people’s photos will take you much further than acting like a wallflower.
Follow and Like Relevant Accounts
Growing your follower base is also a matter of being proactive and approaching others instead of just waiting for people to come to you.
Use the search function to find likeminded users and start following them.
Better yet, while you are at it, like a number of their images. This will enhance the chances of them following you back.
Tag People and Ask Others to Tag Their Friends
Users in Instagram can tag each other in images (you might know this feature from Facebook). This is a great way to invite someone to interact with your images.
If you have relevant people to tag (players, staff, fans that you know), by all means do so! Without being spammy of course.
Another great strategy is to ask your followers to tag their friends. You can use this, for example, by posting images from your last game and asking your fans and players to tag themselves in them.
This should get your posts in front of more people.
Use Instagram Photos in Other Accounts
Besides running a website for your team, chances are good that you also have several social media presences.
The good news is that Instagram can also give you extra material for those presences by using your images across all outlets.
For example, you can have Instagram automatically post your images to Facebook and further below I will show some plugins for getting your images on your WordPress site.
Many birds, one stone.
Alright, these tactics should be enough to get you started with growing your Instagram following. If you want to dive even deeper into this topic, this post is just the right thing for you to move on to.
Useful Tools and Plugins for Instagram Marketing
With all the effort that goes into running an Instagram account, it’s only good and proper to look for tools that will make the process easier.
- Iconosquare — Manage your account and community. Analyze your activity, follower growth and much more.
- Crowdfire —Great tool to grow and clean up your Instagram account. Lets you monitor followers, sort out non-followers and more.
- Social Insight — Another analytics suite to monitor engagement, growth, the best time to post, interactions and other helpful things.
- Instagram Feed — Display customizable and responsive feeds from one or several Instagram accounts.
- Instagram Slider Widget — Responsive slider widget that will show the last 24 images from your Instagram account sorted in several different ways. Alternative: WP Instagram Widget
- DsgnWrks Instagram Importer — Back up your photos to your WordPress site and display them as an archive. Can also import the images into a custom post type.
- Later — Schedule Instagram posts ahead of time.
People Doing it Right
Lucky for you, you’ve got plenty of great examples to learn how to use your Instagram for your sports club marketing efforts. A number of professionals and semi-professionals are already on there, some of them with great success. Let’s take a look.
The Spanish football/soccer club boasts 30+ million followers on Instagram.
Their feed shows everything from training sessions to players in transit to game pics and they also post custom-made images to announce important games.
Seems to be working very well for them.
While not quite the numbers as Real Madrid, the Lakers also have a nice 2.6 million followers for their account.
Over on their account, they share lots of celebration pictures and show off what their players are doing outside of the basketball court.
However, roughly 75 percent of the images seem to show Kobe Bryant, so I’m not sure what they will post now that he is retired.
A million followers is nothing to scoff at. Well done, Boston Celtics!
In addition to that, their account shows a great mix of images on and off court, behind-the-scenes footage, celebrations, fans and much more.
Not a team account but still very successful with over a million followers, Greatest Highlights is a collection of inspiring moments from all types of sports.
They post mostly videos, which is fitting for this kind of format. This goes to show you that there are plenty of sports fans on Instagram who will gladly engage with what they are passionate about.
Similar to the channel before, this is an entire account dedicated only to celebrations and triumphs in all sorts of sport disciplines. Again, mostly videos.
Instagram is another great tool for sports team marketing. The platform has a large active user base and provides exciting opportunities for posting visual content.
Your team could be one of them and with the tips above you are now able to hit the ground running on your quest to build a loyal following of fans on Instagram.
We wish you all the best and hope to see your snapshots online!
By the way, the folks here at ThemeBoy are doing a tremendous job with the SportsPress plugin, which allows you to build a professional sports team website easily. You can even try it for free! Plus, if you have any questions, you can always get in touch.